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Pro-Russians Dead In Ukraine, China Knife Attack, Robot Sex

Liverpool’s Luis Suaraz breaks down in tears during the game against Crystal Palace Monday.
Liverpool’s Luis Suaraz breaks down in tears during the game against Crystal Palace Monday.

Ukraine’s Interim Interior Minister Arsen Avakov announced on his Facebook page that more than 30 pro-Russian militants, labelled as “terrorists,” had been killed in the army’s offensive in Eastern Ukraine, The Guardian reports. According to officials, four Ukrainian troops were killed and at least 30 were injured in the fighting. Meanwhile, pro-Russian activists have claimed that 20 of their militants died as dozens of civilians were injured in the army’s attack on Sloviansk yesterday.

Foreign ministers from the Council of Europe have gathered in Vienna for a meeting expected to focus on the Ukrainian crisis, although Austria’s foreign minister already warned, “You cannot expect miracles from the conference because there won't be any.” Reuters also reports that the Russian and Ukrainian foreign ministers met briefly at the conference.

Russia’s Defense Ministry announced that Moscow would spend almost $2.5 billion by 2020 to expand its fleet in the Black Sea and install new air defense and marine units in Crimea, RT reports. Meanwhile, the country’s deputy foreign minister said that despite the tensions with the United States over the situation in Ukraine, Russia would abide by its 2010 nuclear arms reduction treaty. Read more from Reuters.

Liverpool’s Luis Suaraz broke down in tears during the Premier League game against Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park. Monday night. After the game finished with a 3-3 draw — during which Liverpool gave up goals in quick succession — the team lost what could have been its first title in 24 years.

United Nations’ Secretary General Ban Ki-moon arrived in war-torn South Sudan in a new attempt to push for a ceasefire, almost five months after the beginning of a civil war that some fear is turning into genocide, AFP reports. The UN chief’s visit comes after yesterday’s failed offensive from the army to retake the rebel-held town of Bentiu, an attack John Kerry condemned.

The Channel Tunnel — more affectionately known as the Chunnel — is now two decades old.

At least six people were injured in a knife attack this morning just outside a railway station in the southeastern city of Guangzhou, Xinhua reports. The victims have been transported to a hospital, and their wounds are not believed to be life threatening. Police shot and caught one of the suspects. The attack comes just one week after another railway station was targeted in a blast and knife attack in the Xinjiang region. In early March, 29 people were killed in a coordinated knife attack at Kunming’s train station.

“I want to tell you that it is not me that finished the Muslim Brotherhood. You, the Egyptians, are the ones who finished it,” former Egyptian army chief Abdul Fattah al-Sisi said during his first interview with Egyptian TV to launch his presidential campaign.

A 53-year-old diver taking part in the search operations in the sunken South Korean ferry has died after falling unconscious underwater, Yonhap reports. The search for the 39 people still missing have continued, however, with the death toll now standing at 263. In a scathing article, South Korean daily Chosun Ilbodescribes how the sunken ship had been regularly overloaded, with its operator choosing to ignore passenger safety in the face of higher profits.

As Süddeutsche Zeitung’s Berit Uhlmann writes, vegan food offerings can often be deceiving. In a sampling of products tested, many had high fat and sodium content and others were not at all natural. “Vegans and vegetarians who do not banish any and all processed products from their diets cannot escape the tricks of the food industry,” the journalist writes. “When it comes to names, for example, something like ‘Bio-Plus-3’ may sound organic, but it requires reading the small print on the package to discover that it’s contents are not entirely natural. Meanwhile, a cranberry bar turns out to contain mainly almonds, date paste and only a smattering of berries.” Read the full article, It May Be Vegan, But That Doesn't Mean It's Healthy

Iran launched its 19th International Oil, Gas, Refining and Petrochemical Exhibition in Tehran today, with 600 major foreign energy companies expected to attend and position themselves in anticipation of a possible lift of sanctions, three times more than last year, PressTV reports. Under international sanctions, the country, which is home to the third-largest oil reserves and the second-largest gas reserves, is currently limited in its export of oil to 1.2 million barrels per day. Read more from AFP.


A recent poll suggests that one in six Britons would have sex with a robot.

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How Brazil's Evangelical Surge Threatens Survival Of Native Afro-Brazilian Faith

Followers of the Afro-Brazilian Umbanda religion in four traditional communities in the country’s northeast are resisting pressure to convert to evangelical Christianity.

image of Abel José, an Umbanda priest

Abel José, an Umbanda priest

Agencia Publica
Géssica Amorim

Among a host of images of saints and Afro-Brazilian divinities known as orixás, Abel José, 42, an Umbanda priest, lights some candles, picks up his protective beads and adjusts the straw hat that sits atop his head. He is preparing to treat four people from neighboring villages who have come to his house in search of spiritual help and treatment for health ailments.

The meeting takes place discreetly, in a small room that has been built in the back of the garage of his house. Abel lives in the quilombo of Sítio Bredos, home to 135 families. The community, located in the municipality of Betânia of Brazil’s northeastern state of Pernambuco, is one of the municipality’s four remaining communities that have been certified as quilombos, the word used to refer to communities formed in the colonial era by enslaved Africans and/or their descendents.

In these villages there are almost no residents who still follow traditional Afro-Brazilian religions. Abel, Seu Joaquim Firmo and Dona Maura Maria da Silva are the sole remaining followers of Umbanda in the communities in which they live. A wave of evangelical missionary activity has taken hold of Betânia’s quilombos ever since the first evangelical church belonging to the Assembleia de Deus group was built in the quilombo of Bredos around 20 years ago. Since then, other evangelical, pentecostal, and neo-pentecostal churches and congregations have established themselves in the area. Today there are now nine temples spread among the four communities, home to roughly 900 families.

The temples belong to the Assembleia de Deus, the Seventh-day Adventist Church, and the World Church of God's Power, the latter of which has over 6,000 temples spread across Brazil and was founded by the apostle and televangelist Valdemiro Santiago, who became infamous during the pandemic for trying to sell beans that he had blessed as a Covid-19 cure. Assembleia de Deus alone, who are the largest pentecostal denomination in the world, have built five churches in Betânia’s quilombos.

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